Magazine article American Libraries

Libraries Find Success in Crowdfunding

Magazine article American Libraries

Libraries Find Success in Crowdfunding

Article excerpt

When the Northlake (Ill.) Public Library District wanted to grow its popular graphic novel collection and add a fun I element to attract young adults, I the staff decided to dream | big--really big. As in 9-feet-tall-and-green kind of big.

Staff members launched a crowdfunding campaign in 2013 I through the website Indiegogo to raise $30,000 to buy a statue of the Incredible Hulk, a stack of new graphic novels, and new technology, including a 3D printer and an iMac with a drawing pad.

Did the library hit its funding goal with a legendary Hulk smash?

"We didn't even raise enough money to buy his leg," says Sharon Highler, the library's director. "But we reached every goal except the actual money."

A boxing gym owner in California saw the campaign online and decided to donate his own Hulk statue, a decoration from the premiere of the 2008 movie The Incredible Hulk. A logistics company donated transportation for the massive statue. And with the $4,262 raised from the online campaign, the library was able to buy all the technology it wanted, as well as quite a few graphic novels to boot.

Many of the donations came from the local community, but some were national and even international. Northlake's unique goal helped it garner press attention, leading to more donations. Highler even got a call from Good Morning America--though nothing aired.

On the other side of the country, the Paonia branch of the Delta County (Colo.) Libraries used the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to raise money for an innovative project: to bring Wi-Fi hotspots to its town of 1,500 residents by using television "whitespace" made available in 2010 after the switch to digital signals.

Paonia was one of six public libraries nationwide selected for the pilot Super Wi-Fi project from the Gigabit Libraries Network, but it was only for a trial period. If the library wanted to keep its Wi-Fi hotspots permanently, it had to purchase the equipment,

the total cost of which was $6,000. When a local millage was defeated and the town council didn't offer the money, John Gavan, the libraries' technology manager, turned to crowdfunding.

The library had 30 days to raise the needed $4,000, and it succeeded, meeting its goal on January 19. Wi-Fi usage is going up by the week, says Gavan, and the town is very appreciative, especially given the difficulty of get ting wireless internet in this rural mountain area. …

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